Thorneside man Barry Musch honoured for gallantry in Vietnam War

HONOURED: Vietnam War veteran Barry Musch's unit was awarded a Unit Citation for Gallantry last year.

HONOURED: Vietnam War veteran Barry Musch's unit was awarded a Unit Citation for Gallantry last year.

THORNESIDE resident Barry Musch will have a new insignia to wear this Anzac Day, with his unit receiving an award for their courage during the Vietnam War.

In 2018, the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam was awarded theUnit Citation for Gallantryfor their extraordinary bravery in Vietnam between 1967 and 1971.

Mr Musch began his decade-long Navy career as a 16-year-old in 1964, becoming a ship's clearance diver after 12 months at the Navy training college at HMAS Leeuwin in Western Australia.

In the mid-1960s, he served as a clearance diver and later an underwater control seaman aboard HMAS Vendetta in Malaysia and HMAS Yarra in Borneo.

"We were tasked with diving under the hull of the ship to check for mines twice a day which was pretty scary but had to be done," he said.

In 1968 Mr Musch trained to become a Leading Aircrewman, flying in anti-submarine helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to and from the deck of aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne.

While airborne, he was responsible for navigation, radar and anti-submarine work.

In 1970 he was posted to the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam.

This unit were integrated into an American Assault Helicopter Company, with the joint Australian-American force known as the Experimental Military Unit.

Mr Musch flew more than 80 combat assault missions totalling more than 400 hours.

An inquiry by the Defence Honours Tribunal found aircrew flew 50 per cent more operational hours per month than crew from other units in similar roles.

A citation recommendation by the Fleet Air Arm Association of Australia said Mr Musch's unit saw the most intense combat of any Navy personnel in the Vietnam War.

The recommendation said the unit'saircrew were constantly engaged by the enemy, faced the danger of booby-trapped landing zones and even found themselves fired upon by friendly forces.

"When other units didn't want to do a mission, they would give it to us and we were too young and silly to say no," Mr Musch said.

Mr Musch said he did not like to relive his time in Vietnam and would be celebrating Anzac Day quietly, preferring to catch up with friends and pay respect to fallen comrades in private.

"We spend the day talking about the silly things we saw and did, rather than the war-related stuff," he said.

"Other than the people from our unit, there are very few people that can relate to what we did and saw.

"Anyone that wasn't there will never really understand what we went through."